Borne: A Novel - Jeff VanderMeer

I picked up Borne completely by chance at the local library, not being completely sure what I was getting myself into - the only other book I'd read from this author was Annihilation, which I enjoyed (though I preferred the movie, if I'm being honest). 

 

This is post-apocalyptic stuff, set in a world where biotechnology has gone unchecked and the remaining survivors are menaced by the creatures it's created. Most powerful among them is a giant bear called Mord, which used to be a man before biotech got involved with him, and who menaces the landscape as well as having followers of his own. Our protagonist is Rachel, a scavenger who finds another biotech creature (the eponymous Borne) and brings it into the world she shares with fellow-survivor Wick. 

 

From then on, Rachel and Wick have a love-hate relationship with Borne as it grows and learns, with Wick in particular wanting to dissect and experiment on Borne. As Borne learns and begins to communicate, the question becomes whether Borne is a creature or a weapon - it can, in the end, be both. Rachel and Wick find themselves running for their lives as Borne continues to change and other threats to their tenuous survival ebb and flow. 

 

I wasn't completely expecting to stick with this novel but it kept me carried along, bleak as the world the author describes turns out to be. There are also secrets along the way, things Rachel doesn't know about herself or her companion, but in the end it's actually quite a hopeful story. There seems to be another book coming out soon (Dead Astronauts) that's set in the same world but it's not immediately clear to me from the blurb if it's a sequel, a prequel or just shares the same universe. Not sure I'll buy it, but I might check it out if the library can oblige...